The Calgary Hitmen may have avoided Saskatoon during their Western Hockey League playoff drive, but they took a little detour this way during Thursday's WHL Bantam Draft.
The Hitmen -- who are about to play in the WHL final against the Tri-City Americans -- dipped into Saskatoon's bantam AA tier one ranks for a handful of players. Austin Calladine, Colby Harmsworth, Mack Shields and Elliott Peterson were all on Calgary's hit list Thursday.
Calladine was Calgary's second pick, overall.
"I know those guys (fellow Saskatoon picks) well," said the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Calladine, taken 44th overall. "We've played AAA (Hustlin'' Huskies) together for the past three or four years.
"I'm just really pumped to go to their camp and show them what I can do. I was just hoping I'd get drafted."
It was also pretty neat for Calladine's dad, Kevin, after seeing Greg Chase become Calgary's No. 1 pick.
"His dad is a good friend of mine and we worked together for years," said Kevin Calladine, "so it's kind of neat that they'd end up on the same team here."
Harmsworth, a 5-foot-11, 158-pound defenceman, was selected in the third round, 54th overall.
"It's nice to have somebody that I know that is already going there," said Harmsworth. "I didn't really have any idea who was going to take me. It was kind of a (toss-up)."
Shields was one of three Saskatoon goalies to be chosen Thursday.
"It definitely says something," noted Shields. "We have such good programs here. Elite Goaltending is where me and Brett (Lewchuk) go. The head guy is Gilles Bouvier and he's definitely one of the great reasons for my success and where I am today."
Shields admits he was just happy to get drafted.
"I'm so happy about it (fellow Saskatoon selections)," he said. "I'm good friends with those other guys. It's awesome to go there with some familiar faces. I'm really excited."
Daniel Wapple and Brett Lewchuk were other Saskatoon goalies picked.
"That's awesome that all three of us could get selected," said Wapple, taken in the fourth round, 82nd overall, by the Moose Jaw Warriors. "It just shows the depth of the goaltenders in Saskatoon.
"I had a little bit of a feeling that Moose Jaw would take me. I'm pretty excited about that."
DOETZEL A FIRST-ROUNDER
Next to Forsberg, Rosetown's Kayle Doetzel was the top Saskatchewan player to be taken in Thursday's WHL Bantam Draft. Doetzel, a
6-foot-1, 175-pound defenceman, was selected 12th overall by the Red Deer Rebels.
"That's awesome," said Doetzel, who played bantam hockey for West Central this past season but plans to move on to the Saskatoon Midget AAA Contacts next season. "It's pretty sweet because it's so close to home, too. That'll be great.
"I didn't think I'd be that early. I was thinking (late) first round or early second round. It's a good organization and I'm looking forward to play there."
Warman's Craig Leverton was picked 25th overall by the Lethbridge Hurricanes
"I was pretty excited when I first saw it," said Leverton. "I thought that is where I might end up because me and my step-dad have been talking to them quite a bit.
Leverton scored 47 goals and 43 assists for 90 points in 22 games played with the Warman Wildcats.
"I was hoping to go in the first round, but I was kind of expecting to go around where I did. I'm expecting to start out as a third-line player when I first get there, but, hopefully, I can move up to the top two lines as a productive scorer and defensive player as well."
Saskatoon's Branden Scheidl was taken 72nd overall by the Portland Winterhawks.
"It's pretty exciting," said Scheidl, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound defenceman whose first cousin, Lane, plays for Red Deer in the WHL but was originally selected in the bantam draft by the Vancouver Giants.
"I was hoping to be selected closer to home but you've got to take where you go, I guess."
A total of 15 Saskatoon players were picked Thursday. Rounding out the group were: Matt McLeod (Round 5, Kamloops); Robbie Cameron (Round 6, Edmonton); Conner Kortko (Round 6, Saskatoon); Carson Stadnyk (Round 8, Everett); Chris Thorimbert (Round 10, Lethbridge); Tanner Lishchynsky (Round 10, Vancouver); Maxim Powiada (Round 11, Brandon).